The Trump Watch: Mid-May

Say What?

The Washington Post asked Agent Orange if he had any idea why Abraham Lincoln was a successful president.  The Donald’s reply:

Well, I think Lincoln succeeded for numerous reasons. He was a man who was of great intelligence, which most presidents would be. But he was a man of great intelligence, but he was also a man who did something that was a very vital thing to do at that time. Ten years before or 20 years before, what he was doing would never have even been thought possible. So he did something that was a very important thing to do, and especially at that time.

While The Curmudgeon awaits a translation of this statement into something bearing at least a passing resemblance to English he fondly recalls a similarly troubling attempt to communicate on the beloved The West Wing.

The View From Under the Bus

That’s the view being enjoyed, or more likely not enjoyed, by every person in the Trump administration who tried to explain why the president fired FBI director James Comey and why he fired him when he fired him.  They all talked to reporters and went on television and explained their little hearts out and then the president himself spoke to one reporter and contradicted every single one of them.

Way to be loyal to your people, Mr. President.

And Speaking of Loyalty

The Curmudgeon really doesn’t want to get into the FBI/Comey firing in any detail because we’re being inundated with information and commentary about this whole kerfuffle (The Curmudgeon never misses an opportunity to use “kerfuffle”), but another thing he found curious is the suggestion that Agent Orange fired Comey because he wasn’t convinced Comey was sufficiently loyal to him.

That’s ridiculous:  the director of the FBI isn’t supposed to be loyal to the president.  In fact, the FBI director is appointed to a ten-year term specifically because that job is supposed to transcend electoral politics and the person who holds it is supposed to act with a reasonable degree of independence.  The director of the FBI’s loyalty is supposed to be to the enforcement of the law and to the American people, and in this case that meant following an apparent trail of evidence that the president didn’t want him to follow.

The Curmudgeon isn’t a Comey fan even though he seems like a decent guy, but if he was going to get fired anyway – which he probably was – it was probably better to get fired for insisting on doing his job the right way rather than for failing to do the job the way a president who doesn’t even understand the role of the FBI wanted him to do it.

 It’s the Presidency, Not Vitamin C

It’s not supposed to raise your immunity.

Agent Orange, though, believes being president gives him immunity from being sued.

It doesn’t.

Several parties are seeking to sue The Donald for inciting violence at political rallies during the 2016 campaign.  Whether he bears guilt for such actions will be up to a court to decide even though his lawyers claim that as president he has immunity from such suits.  A federal judge rejected that argument, and we need look no further back for the relevant precedent than 1997, when the Supreme Court ruled that another president who had a problem keeping his hands to himself absolutely could be sued for actions that took place before he was president.

See you in court, Donnie.

Forget About Having His Finger on the Nuclear Button

 This president’s finger is too busy operating the tv remote control.

We’ve already seen how this president equates popularity with quality, such as when he rejects the reporting of news programs that don’t get good ratings.  If people aren’t watching, Agent Orange reasons, the program must not be any good and the reporting must therefore be defective in some way.

So is it any surprise that when asked if Sean Spicer’s job was in danger because his performances before the White House press corps are so thoroughly hopeless, Agent Orange begged to differ?

I’m not firing Sean Spicer.  That guy gets great ratings. Everyone tunes in.

Because that’s what’s important, right?

The following excerpts come from a Washington Post story about The Donald’s TV-watching habits.

For Trump — a reality TV star who parlayed his blustery-yet-knowing on-air persona into a winning political brand — television is often the guiding force of his day, both weapon and scalpel, megaphone and news feed. And the president’s obsession with the tube — as a governing tool, a metric for staff evaluation, and a two-way conduit with lawmakers and aides — has upended the traditional rhythms of the White House, influencing many spheres, including policy, his burgeoning relationship with Congress, and whether he taps out a late-night or early-morning tweet. 

One White House insider who wouldn’t know the truth if it hit her upside the head says it’s sheer brilliance:

“President Trump is someone who comes to the White House with a sophisticated understanding of how to communicate, the power of television, the power of imagery, the power of message, and how message, messenger and delivery all work together,” said Kellyanne Conway, counselor to the president.  

 The Post offers a glimpse into some of his viewing habits:

On his campaign plane, Trump watched television on full volume — usually Fox News, sometimes CNN — almost constantly, said someone who flew with him, shushing his aides whenever he himself came on the screen and listening with rapt attention.

And there’s this:

Trump turns on the television almost as soon as he wakes, then checks in periodically throughout the day in the small dining room off the Oval Office, and continues late into the evening when he’s back in his private residence.

The president reportedly was unhappy about how he dresses.

And for a guy who doesn’t seem to know how to wear a necktie, Agent Orange is apparently very appearance-conscious:

When Spicer did his first briefing-room appearance in an ill-fitting gray pinstripe suit, the president made his displeasure known, and Spicer returned the next week more crisply attired.

 And this:

 Another time, Trump took particular issue with the aesthetics of a male commentator who appeared sometimes as a guest on “Morning Joe,” and began pestering the hosts, imploring them to dump the analyst who so offended his visual sensibilities, said someone with knowledge of the episode. 

We’ve actually heard this before:  that the leader of the free world routinely judges people on their appearance.  Strange, isn’t it, coming from a guy who wears a Davy Crockett hat on his head and neckties long enough to cover his schmeckle?

Who Knew?

Who knew that “Who Knew?” would be a regular feature of our little Trump watch?

Our “who knew” additions this time:

Agent Orange expressed surprise that being president was a difficult job – more difficult than he imagined and more difficult than his last job.  As he explained to Reuters:

This is more work than in my previous life. I thought it would be easier.

So being president is hard work.  Who knew?

And then there’s this whole Civil War business:  who knew that nobody ever really asked why the Civil War was fought?

Here’s a clue:  ask any fourth-grader, Donnie.  Ask your own ten-year-old.

And who knew that Andrew Jackson might’ve done something to prevent that war – even though he’d been dead for nearly sixteen years before that first barrage of gunfire aimed at Fort Sumter.

And One “Who Knew?” That’s Been Resolved

Remember when Agent Orange said that he had no idea health care was so complicated – that no one new it was so complicated?  Rest easy, Americans:  he’s solved that problem, telling Time magazine that

… in a short period of time I understood everything there was to know about health care.

Everything.  He now understands EVERYTHING.

What an amazing guy.

On Second Thought…

Maybe he still needs to learn a few lessons about health insurance because this is what he told the magazine The Economist about health insurance:

Insurance is, you’re 20 years old, you just graduated from college, and you start paying $15 a month for the rest of your life and by the time you’re 70, and you really need it, you’re still paying the same amount and that’s really insurance.

$15 a month.  In what alternative universe is this guy living?

“Well I Don’t Claim to be an ‘A’ Student..”

Well, actually, he does, telling Time that

I’m getting very good marks in foreign policy. People would not think of me in that light. I’m just saying, and you read the same things I read. I’m getting As and A+s on foreign policy.

Responding to Critics

Agent Orange has a lot of critics and it’s certainly his right to respond to them.  Doing so does not always reflect very good judgment, but it’s certainly his right.

And it’s a right he always – always – chooses to exercise, because in the world of Donald Trump, every single slight, no matter how trivial, merits a response – with both barrels a-blazin’.

One of those critics has been Stephen Colbert, and Trump, like Popeye, decided that “enoughs is enoughs” and fired back:

You see a no-talent guy like Colbert. There’s nothing funny about what he says. And what he says is filthy.  And you have kids watching. And it only builds up my base.

Fair enough, although he may not realize that Colbert’s program airs at 11:30, when, at least in theory, not too many kids are watching.

But he can’t stop there; no, he needs to throw in a little bragging while he’s at it.

Then he started attacking me and he started doing better. But his show was dying. I’ve done his show. … But when I did his show, which by the way was very highly rated. It was high — highest rating. The highest rating he’s ever had.

The guy’s amazing – relentless in his egotism and self-promotion.

Speaking of His Ego…

 In the aforementioned interview with The Economist, Agent Orange, describing what the U.S. economy needs, said that

 We have to prime the pump

Then he felt a need to explain himself:

Have you heard that expression used before?  Because I haven’t heard it. I mean, I just … I came up with it a couple of days ago and I thought it was good. It’s what you have to do.

He really thinks he created that expression himself – or at least he thinks if he says he did often enough that people will eventually believe him.  The Curmudgeon has certainly heard the term before and you almost certainly have, too, and it’s creation is generally attributed to economist John Maynard Keynes, who passed away in 1946, although one dictionary traces the expression back to Sir Walter Scott in 1819.

In the coming months, we can expect Agent Orange to claim ownership of a few other terms as well, including:

The president is suing, claiming that he, not the lads, wrote the lyric “I am the egg man
They are the egg men
I am the walrus
Goo goo g’joob”

Go ahead, make my day

Best thing since sliced bread

One-term president

Can’t judge a book by its cover

While Nero fiddled, Rome burned

Elvis has left the building

Everybody have fun tonight, everybody wang chung tonight

 The man knows no shame.

 You’ve Come a Long Way, Baby

And maybe it’s time for a few years with little or no progress.

And maybe even a little backsliding.

What else to think after this overlooked gem from a December issue of the New Yorker:

 A recent piece in the Times reported that, when Nancy Pelosi, the Minority Leader of the House of Representatives, spoke to Trump by phone shortly after the election and raised the subject of women’s issues, he handed the phone to Ivanka.

Looks like he’s still grabbing women by the privates, at least metaphorically speaking.

 Oh No He Didn’t

Oh yes he did.

Oh yes he did imply that there are…


Here we go again.

“This Trump is my kind of president.”

That’s right:  there may be tapes, as Agent Orange suggested in the face of anticipated, as opposed to actual, criticism from recently deposed FBI director James Comey.  Last Friday he tweeted that

James Comey better hope that there are no “tapes” of our conversations before he starts leaking to the press!

Paging Rose Mary Woods!

Freedom From the Press

Not a typo:  that’s what Agent Orange said, via tweet, that he’s considering:

…Maybe the best thing to do would be to cancel all future “press briefings” and hand out written responses for the sake of accuracy???

“B-b-b-but…our beautiful constitution…”

Because in a democracy like ours, who needs a free press?  Apparently we’re now supposed to elect a president and then step aside and let him do his thing without asking any questions or inquiring exactly what that thing is.

We know this isn’t going to happen:  written responses would introduce a level of accountability that this administration has consistently rejected by reserving the right to change its story as often as it needs to until it comes up with something that people won’t necessarily accept but at least won’t laugh at.

The Curmudgeon, for one, is not laughing at any of this.  He’s mostly just getting scared.


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